Chapter 3: History and Background of the Trolling Motor

Chapter 3: History and Background of the Trolling Motor

Trolling motors have been used for fishing for a long time. Initially made in the late 18th century, the trolling motors have gone through a lot of innovations and are now much reliable and efficient than they ever used to be in the past. A trolling motor is an all-in-one package that includes an electric motor, propeller and controls. It uses batteries to function, and is attached to either the rearmost part or the front of the fishing boat. Trolling motors are lifted up from the water when the boat needs its maximum engine power to go on, and is let down in the water again when the desired fishing spot it reached.

How Did Trolling Motors Actually Come Into Being? 

In the 18th Century, the Trolling motor was better known as a portable electric propeller for all fishing boats. The trolling motors in the past were made by attaching a movable tube to the rearmost part of the boat, like oars are usually attached for sculling. The tube was the main part of the trolling motor and it was attached to a flexible shaft that was made up of three coins of phosphor bronze joined together. The movable tube extended down even further where a propeller was attached to it. Next to it was an electric motor that needed batteries to function.

The trolling motors were initially manufactured and distributed by the Electric Boat Company, but then they underwent some major innovations and the first electric trolling motor was manufactured in 1934 by O.G Schmidt, in North Dakota. Schmidt experimented on a Model “A” Ford starter motor and added a flexible shaft and propeller in order to convert it into an electrical trolling motor. Since the electric trolling motors company was in Minnesota/North Dakota, Schmidt named the new company Minn Kota. Minn Kota is one of the biggest and the best manufacturers of trolling motors to date.

Whether fishing is being done as a profession or as a recreation, trolling motors are necessary innovations that need to be used in order to capture the biggest and the best fish in the spot. As compared to the previous times where fishing used to take endless hours and fewer captures, trolling motors nowadays help fishermen in reaching far away fishing spots easily, while giving a non-hectic and quiet time. Since the invention of the trolling motor, fishermen prefer to have a trolling motor mounted to both, the back and the front side of the boat in order to keep the boat stable and provide better control of the boat movements. These motors enable the fishermen to adopt various different kinds of fishing techniques in these days, as compared to the past where it used to take ages while sitting in the same spot and waiting for the fishes.

Do Trolling Motors Really Help?

The trolling motors have given the greatest advantage to the bass fishermen, who previously had to go into the shallower waters where bass feed and spawn in, and this disturbed them and made them leave the spot. Now, with the usage of trolling motors, fishermen can throw in casts while keeping their boats at a distance, so that the fish don't get scared away. Trolling motors also help bass fishermen to position their boats at a certain spot and certain angle also help keep the boat steady despite the wind and water currents.

The invention of the trolling motors has greatly helped Walleye anglers, who use trolling motors not only for casting, but also used these to keep the boat under control while jig fishing. The trolling motor also helps the Walleye fishermen to keep the boat at a slow pace by deploying a drift sock off and using the trolling motor in reverse. Walleye fishers have also found a new way to take advantage of the trolling motors in best possible manner by the use of back trolling. Initially, gas tiller motors were used for back trolling. Using electric trolling motors for back trolling helps to stay on the spot and catch fish without scaring them away.

Fishing used to be very difficult during the cold weather in the old times, when fishes are lethargic and hard to catch. However, with the invention of trolling motors, this problem was solved too. Fishermen use a bow mounted electric trolling motor to troll during cold weather since the electric motor trolls at a much slower pace than a gas outboard, and the electric option serves to catch fish in critical conditions too. Apart from that, trolling motors are used alongside planer boards to catch fish without letting them detect you beforehand. The planet boards and trolling motors make a very silent and strong combination and can be deployed in water to catch the maximum number of fish present within hundreds of feet all around the boat. Trolling motors are also used for making a pattern with search baits, that is by setting the bow mount at a moderate speed, the part of the waters can be discovered that most of the fish occupy and the part of the water that is unproductive and useless to fish in. 

Innovations in the Field of Trolling Motors:

All in all, the invention of the electric trolling motors has revolutionized the world of fishing. It is the only option in a few lakes that do not allow gas outboards, and for the places that do. It is an excellent backup to have on board in case the gas engine fails and you have trouble in getting back to the dock. Trolling motors give fishing boats an overall better control and provides versatility and efficiency options that gas outboards fail to offer.

The first gear driver electric trolling motor was invented in 1934, and underwent further innovation in 1935, when the first flexible cable driven electric trolling motor was invented. A few years after that, in 1965, the first electric motor with forward and reverse switch was introduced which was a great help to the fishermen. In order to provide more relief to the fishermen, the first battery saving, electronic variable speed control was introduced in 1985 and was sold as an accessory known as 'maximizer'. It later came as a built in battery saving, fully variable speed control in 1986. Just a year later, in 1987, the first space-saving, electric trolling motor with a low bow mount was introduced that featured built-in electronic variable speed control and automatic display battery condition gauge.

 In the same year, the first electric steer foot operated remote control trolling motor was made available for the fishermen too. Later, after a few years, the trolling motor shaft with composite fiberglass was invented in 1991, along with the first microprocessor-controlled self-steering electric trolling motor. The first weed less electric trolling motor propeller was invented in 1993, and was known as the Weed less Wedge. Two years later in 1995, the first all-direction trolling motor was introduced known as the Bow guard 360, which featured impact-absorption, self-resetting, and breakaway bow-mount system. After that, the first auto deploy and power trim electric trolling motor was invented in 1999 and was known as the Genesis. A year later, the hand control and 4:1 steering ratio was added to the Genesis and it was then known as the Vantage. After that, The Universal Sonar was invented with a trolling motor that features an integrated transducer that is famous for its compatibility with the major fishing brands. Just a year later the Copilot was introduced too, that was the first trolling motor with wireless remote control.

The innovations got faster and more efficient at this stage and the first 3:1 steering ratio hand control trolling motor was introduced in 2004, along with the first cable steer motor with gas-charged spring, known as the Lift-Assist on Maxxum, in 2005. In 2007, the Universal Sonar was further innovated and the Universal Sonar 2 was introduced, which featured integrated dual beam sonar transducer and temperature sensing. Traxxis, the first one-hand stow transform trolling motor was then introduced in 2009, along with the Fortrex, which is a mono-arm, bow-mount trolling motor. Further innovations include the I-Pilot in 2010, which is a remote controlled GPS bases navigation system in shape of a trolling motor, and the Talon in 2011, which can auto-deploy or retract electro-mechanical anchor in shallow waters. The latest innovations include the 2013 model known as the i-Pilot Link, a fast and wireless navigation system controlled by GPS and with the ability to communicate with a Hummingbird fish finder, and the 2014 model which is a thrust trolling motor along with an electro-mechanical shallow water anchor Talon, which comes with various anchoring modes. The newest advancement in the field of troll motors is auto-stow/deploy electric trolling motor, that features power from and GPS controlled navigation system.

Trolling motors have a long and strong story based on objectives, and how the anglers made their way across each one of them. Like it’s famously said necessity is mother of invention and trolling motors put that to action!